How did North Star get started? As a bass player, I’ve played a lot with other bands and musicians over the years. After years of playing, many different styles of music and ideas for my own songs started to develop in my head. So I started writing songs and working on them until I thought the time was right to do something with them. Then I looked for a producer who could help me transform my demos into a more definite form.
You contacted Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas, the bass player of MuteMath and The Pink Dust. Why him? I am a huge fan of his band MuteMath. They are very creative and their songs are really good, a perfect combination of electronics and acoustic instruments. They know how to get the most out of their songs, from very bombastic to small songs. There are no limits in what they do to make a song sound great. His remixes of MuteMath songs are great and so is his work with The Pink Dust.
You are a bass player. Is it a coincidence that you asked another bass player to produce your songs? I guess not. You always pay more attention to musicians who play the same instrument. What I like about Roy is the fact that he does a lot more than just play bass. On stage he plays bass, guitar, keys and is ‘ground control’, he controls sounds and samples that can’t be reproduced live.
How did you get him to produce your songs? About a year and a half ago I contacted him and sent him some of the demos I made. His first response was: “You need to work on your songwriting”. Okay, that was somewhat disappointing, but it also encouraged me to find a good direction. I studied and listened a lot and a year later I sent him new material. From that moment on we started working on getting the songs to the final stage.
How did you collaborate? I sent Roy the individual tracks from the demos so he could work on them. He added and removed some things. Then I would work on them from there. It went back and forth several times until we both agreed it was ready to be recorded. In December 2016 I went to Nashville, where he lives. In ten days we recorded all the parts. We started with drums, played by Darren King, MuteMath’s drummer. He’s a really great drummer! Anne-Linn, our singer, also flew to Nashville to record vocals. Those were long days of hard work because we had to get it done within those ten days, but it paid off.
As a (double) bass player, you play many different styles, from jazz to rock & roll. North Star is more pop/electronic. What music do you like to listen to? I like to listen to bands that make real songs. By that I mean songs with a beautiful melody and a beautiful progression in chords, and of course with a surprise. Like Teardrop from Massive Attack, Inhaler from Hooverphonic, but also Fifteen Step from Radiohead. And Chaos from MuteMath of course. A fantastic song.
What is your favorite song from this EP? Oh, that is difficult to answer. I like ‘What will happen’ very much. In that song we made a sample of Anne-Linn and we used it to make the chords. But I don’t have a favorite… yet.
What are your expectations for North Star? I just hope that, when you've listened to the songs, you'll get the sensation that something happened to you. That you found it moving or just beautiful.
Have you found a band for live sessions already? North Star does have a core of three: Anne-Linn Beekhof, vocals, Matthias van Olst, drums and of course myself. I will play bass, some guitar and I’ll do ‘ground control’. I work a lot with Anne-Linn and Matthias, who has also done a lot of work on the demos. For live sessions we’ll see what and who we need. We know a lot of great musicians. You’ve written more songs than just the ones on this EP. Are you going to record them too? Yes, those songs are all ready, yet some of them need a little more work. That’s my next challenge. I am going to record them in March/April, so our LP will be ready in the second half of May.